Olympia is home to about 52,000 people, and it’s growing. Rob Smith is one of the new arrivals. He came here about six years ago, and was so taken with the city that he started a podcast about it.
“Welcome to Olympia” explores not just the sights in Washington’s capital city, but also the stories. As we explored stories from Olympia for our KNKX Connects reporting project, we wanted to journey beyond the Capitol Campus. Smith showed us some of his favorite places.
Built around the Moxlie Creek basin, this area once was laden with wells that supplied almost all of Olympia’s drinking water. The waterworks are long gone, with only a few remnants visible in the woods. Residents fought a plan to log the land in the mid-20th century, and today it’s a wooded area great for hikes, running, and even spotting wildlife from time to time.
THE ARTESIAN WELL
Enter off Fifth Avenue Southeast to find a bubbling well surrounded by a mosaic-tiled bench. The well is about 90 feet deep and flows at 10 gallons per minute. The flow of traffic is almost as busy — people come and go at all hours to fill jugs, or just a metal camping cup as they pass by. The nearby plaza facing Fourth Avenue Southeast is fenced off — closed in 2018 after the city said it was having too many problems with people gathered there, including threats to park staff.
PRIEST POINT PARK
Named after a Catholic mission that was on this land only for a dozen years or so, Priest Point Park is a hilly, forested stretch of land with paths throughout, playgrounds, and a beautiful beach looking out at East Bay. On a clear day you can see the Capitol dome from here, insulated by the relative silence of the trees.
OLD SCHOOL PIZZERIA
Come for the pie, stay for the Pac-Man. Old School Pizzeria’s walls are covered in posters and, in the back, you’ll find some vintage arcade games. Smith is really good at Pac-Man, and his one beef with this restaurant is that they turn the games off at night, and erase the high scores. (On the other hand, that makes it easy to attain a high score.)
Of course, no tour is comprehensive, and many of your favorite spots in Olympia are probably missing from this list. Tell us what’s special to you, in the comments below.
It’s the first day of the 2020 legislative session. Today, KNKX Connects to Olympia, bringing you stories about Washington’s capital and how citizens can influence the direction of their state government. As the Legislature convenes, we’re taking a closer look at what’s happening at the Capitol, and life in the city surrounding it. To listen to all our stories, visit knkx.org/connects.